Yale Online Courses – Old Testament & Death

An great opportunity to learn from distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. Open Yale Courses provide free and open access to a selection of introductory courses in video, audio and text transcript format.

Check out these two featured full-semister courses (24 x 50 minute lessons):
1. Introduction to Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) – Department of Religious Studies
2. Death – Department of Philosophy


This course examines the Old Testament as an expression of the religious life and thought of ancient Israel, and a foundational document of Western civilization. A wide range of methodologies, including source criticism and the historical-critical school, tradition criticism, redaction criticism, and literary and canonical approaches are applied to the study and interpretation of the Bible. Special emphasis is placed on the Bible against the backdrop of its historical and cultural setting in the Ancient Near East.


1. The Parts of the Whole
2. The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Biblical Religion in Context
3. The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Genesis 1-4 in Context
4. Doublets and Contradictions, Seams and Sources: Genesis 5-11 and the Historical-Critical Method
5. Critical Approaches to the Bible: Introduction to Genesis 12-50
6. Biblical Narrative: The Stories of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12-36)
7. Israel in Egypt: Moses and the Beginning of Yahwism (Genesis 37- Exodus 4)
8. Exodus: From Egypt to Sinai (Exodus 5-24, 32; Numbers)
9. The Priestly Legacy: Cult and Sacrifice, Purity and Holiness in Leviticus and Numbers
10. Biblical Law: The Three Legal Corpora of JE (Exodus), P (Leviticus and Numbers) and D (Deuteronomy)
11. On the Steps of Moab: Deuteronomy
– Midterm Exam –
12. The Deuteronomistic History: Life in the Land (Joshua and Judges)
13. The Deuteronomistic History: Prophets and Kings (1 and 2 Samuel)
14. The Deuteronomistic History: Response to Catastrophe (1 and 2 Kings)
15. Hebrew Prophecy: The Non-Literary Prophets
16. Literary Prophecy: Amos
17. Literary Prophecy: Hosea and Isaiah
18. Literary Prophecy: Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum and Habbakuk
19. Literary Prophecy: Perspectives on the Exile (Jeremiah, Ezekiel and 2 Isaiah)
20. Responses to Suffering and Evil: Lamentations and Wisdom Literature
21. Biblical Poetry: Psalms and Song of Songs
22. The Restoration: 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah
23. Visions of the End: Daniel and Apocalyptic Literature
24. Alternative Visions: Esther, Ruth, and Jonah

DEATH with Professor Shelly Kagan

There is one thing I can be sure of: I am going to die. But what am I to make of that fact? This course will examine a number of issues that arise once we begin to reflect on our mortality. The possibility that death may not actually be the end is considered. Are we, in some sense, immortal? Would immortality be desirable? Also a clearer notion of what it is to die is examined. What does it mean to say that a person has died? What kind of fact is that? And, finally, different attitudes to death are evaluated. Is death an evil? How? Why? Is suicide morally permissible? Is it rational? How should the knowledge that I am going to die affect the way I live my life?


1. Course introduction
2. The nature of persons: dualism vs. physicalism
3. Arguments for the existence of the soul, Part I
4. Introduction to Plato’s Phaedo; Arguments for the existence of the soul, Part II
5. Arguments for the existence of the soul, Part III: Free will and near-death experiences
6. Arguments for the existence of the soul, Part IV; Plato, Part I
7. Plato, Part II: Arguments for the immortality of the soul
8. Plato, Part III: Arguments for the immortality of the soul (cont.)
9. Plato, Part IV: Arguments for the immortality of the soul (cont.)
10. Personal identity, Part I: Identity across space and time and the soul theory
11. Personal identity, Part II: The body theory and the personality theory
12. Personal identity, Part III: Objections to the personality theory
13. Personal identity, Part IV; What matters?
14. What matters (cont.); The nature of death, Part I
15. The nature of death (cont.); Believing you will die
16. Dying alone; The badness of death, Part I
17. The badness of death, Part II: The deprivation account
18. The badness of death, Part III; Immortality, Part I
19. Immortality Part II; The value of life, Part I
20. The value of life, Part II; Other bad aspects of death, Part I
21. Other bad aspects of death, Part II
22. Fear of death
23. How to live given the certainty of death
24. Suicide, Part I: The rationality of suicide
25. Suicide, Part II: Deciding under uncertainty
26. Suicide, Part III: The morality of suicide and course conclusion

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